2017

34 women

January – April 2017: At least 34 UK women killed by men, or where a man is the principal suspect. 34 women in 120 days is one woman dead every 3.5 days.

  1. 7 January 2017: Nicola Beck, 52, was found dead along with her husband Michael Beck, 62. Police have described their deaths as ‘domestic related murder and suicide.’
  2. 8 January 2017: Kerri McCauley, 32, was found dead. A post-mortem was inconclusive but Norfolk Police said there was evidence that Kerri was subjected to a severe blunt force assault. Her former partner, Joe Storey, 26, has been charged with her murder.
  3. 10 January 2017: Eulin Hastings, 74, was killed in a house fire. A 26-year-old man was arrested and bailed.
  4. 11 January 2017: Victoria Shorrock, 45, was found dead having suffered ‘a number of injuries’. Lee Grime, 35, has been charged with her murder.
  5. 16 January 2017: Leone Weeks, 16, was found stabbed to death on a footbath close to her home. 18-year-old Shea Heeley, has been charged with her murder.
  6. 16 January 2017: Kiran Daudia, 46, ‘s remains were found in a suitcase by a member of the public. Her 50-year-old ex-husband, Ashwin Daudia, has been charged with her murder.
  7. 18 January 2017: Kulwinder Kaur, 40, was killed by a stab wound to her neck. Her husband, Azad Singh, 46, has been charged with her murder.
  8. 19 January 2017: Anne Forneaux, 70, was found dead at home and is believed to have been killed by her husband, Edward Forneaux, 74, who is thought to have killed himself by driving in to a tree.
  9. 20 January 2017: Anita Downey, 51, is thought to have been stabbed to death. David Lymess, 51, has been charged with her murder.
  10. 28 January 2017: Chrissy Kendall, 46, was found dead with multipole stab wounds. Her husband James Neary, 46, has been charged with her murder.
  11. 30 January 2017: Gillian Zvomuya, 42, also known as Nyasha Kahari, dies from head injuries and also suffered injuries from a ‘bladed item’. Her husband Norbery Chikerema, 42, has been charged with her murder.
  12. 3 February 2017: Amandeep Kaur, 35, was found dead with significant injuries. Baldeep Singh, 38, has been charged with her murder.
  13. 6 February 2017: Tina Billingham, 54, was taken to a doctor’s surgery with stab wounds but later died in hospital. Her partner Ronald Cook, 54, has been charged with her murder.
  14. 11 February 2017: Hannah Dorans, 21, was found dead. Frazer Neil, 23, has been charged in relation to her death.
  15. 11 February 2017: Catherine Kelly, 71, was killed in a fire which was thought to have been started deliberately.
  16. 11 February 2017: Hang Yin Leung, 64, was killed when a group of men posing as cold callers entered and robbed her home.
  17. 13 February 2017: Karina Batista, 40, was found dead with multiple injuries to her upper body. Jaici Rocha, 36, has been charged with her murder.
  18. 15 February 2017: Humara Khan, 42, was found to have a serious head injury when police were called to her home. She later died in hospital. Her husband Jamal Khan, 52, has been charged with her murder.
  19. 19 February 2017: Hazel Wilson Briant, 27, was stabbed to death by her partner Olumide Orimoloye, 42, who also killed himself.
  20. 19 February 2017: Margaret Stenning, 79, was stabbed to death. Her husband, Ronald Stenning, who claimed she slit her own throat, has been charged with her murder.
  21. 22 February 2017: Avis Addison, 88, was found dead at home after police were called to the property. Her husband Douglas Addison, 88, has been charged with her murder.
  22. 26 February 2016: Julie McCash, 43, was stabbed to death at a vigil being held for her missing nephew. Robert Stratton, 42, has been charged with her murder.
  23. 26 February 2017: Sarah Pitkin, 58, is believed to have been stabbed to death by her husband Richard Pitkin, , 65, who then hanged himself.
  24. 28 February 2017: Lea Adri-Soejoko, 80, was found dead in an allotment lock-up store. She had been strangled. Rahim Mohammadi, 40, has been charged with her murder.
  25. 8 March 2017: Anne-Marie James, 33, was stabbed to death by her brother Melvin James,36, who then killed himself. He also badly injured their mother.
  26. 13 March 2017: Sabrina Mullings, 38, was stabbed to death. Her partner Ivan Griffin, 23, has been charged with her murder.
  27. 22 March 2017: Aysha Frade, 43, was killed when Adrian Ajao/Elms, also known as Khalid Massod, drove a car in to pedestrians in a terrorist attack in London.
  28. 25 March 2017: Tracey Wilkinson, 50, and her son Pierce, 13, were stabbed to death by Aaron Bailey who was known to the family. Her husband was also badly hurt in the attack.
  29. 25 March 2017: Kanwal/Bernice Williams was last seen alive. Her body was found on 9th of April, two days after the discovery of the body of her husband Lawrence Williams, 50. He is thought to have killed himself.
  30. 6 April 2017: Andreea Christea, 31, died after falling in to the river Thames when Adrian Ajao/Elms, also known as Khalid Massod, drove a car in to pedestrians in a terrorist attack in London on 22 March.
  31. 9 April 2017: Vicki Hull, 31, was found strangled. Mark Mahoney, 31, has been charged with her murder.
  32. 14 April 2017: Hannah Bladon, 20, a student from Derby , was stabbed to death in Jerusalem by Jamil Tamimi, 57.
  33. 17 April 2017: Carolyn Hill, 51, died of a head injury. Skye Page, 37, has been charged with her murder.
  34. 19 April 2017: Karina Evemy, 19, died in hospital of injuries sustained on 13th Her boyfriend Dylan Harries, 21, had previously been charged with attempted murder.

Awaiting charging information regarding the deaths of Samantha Blake-Mizen, Rosemarie Stokes and Anna Maria Pereira De Sousa Rebelo. Please let me know if you have information regarding the deaths of these women or any other women/girls (aged 13 and over)  where a man/men is/are the primary suspects in the UK or UK women killed abroad in 2017.

Last updated 2 May 2017.

Stacey Hyde: A frightened 17-year-old

Stacey Hyde

In April this year, John Butler, 62, went to the flat of his former partner, Pauline Butler, 61, and stabbed her.  In his trial, Butler told the court that he couldn’t remember how the knife had ended up in his hand and that he had fallen after she had pushed him, causing him to accidentally injure her. The court heard that Pauline Butler had previously threatened him with a knife.  Of course, being dead, she wasn’t able to challenge his version of events.   Pauline had been found with a number of knife wounds to her neck, chest and back.  As judge, Mr Justice Edis pointed out, had Butler not wanted Pauline to die, he would have called an ambulance, rather than remove and wash the knife, take her dog to his home, drink a beer and smoke a cigar. Butler was found guilty of manslaughter, not murder, due to loss of control, and sentenced to jail for seven years in jail.

Sybil Sibthorpe was 80 years-old in May, 2012, when she was found in her garden with “significant” head injuries after being beaten by her former tenant Lee Grainger, 41.  Grainger pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility and was sentenced to 12 and-a-half years. According to the judge, Grainger was “a significant danger to the public”.

Adrian Muir, 51, killed Pamela Jackson, 55, by beating or kicking her head with such force that she suffered fractures to her skull and bleeding to her brain. He then drove over 120 miles before digging a grave in moorland and burying her with a bunch of flowers in a Tesco carrier bag. Muir initially denied murder and claimed he had been framed.  He posted fake entries from her Facebook page suggesting she was still alive. It took police more than two months before they found Pamela’s body in May 2013.  Muir’s fingerprint was found on the carrier bag inside her grave, and a CCTV camera caught him cleaning the back of his car in a supermarket car park.  He later claimed that she had attacked him, “like a bloody devil”.  Muir was jailed for 18 years, not for murder, but manslaughter.

Felipe Lopes, 26, had a six-year police history of violent assaults on women before being jailed for 12 weeks in 2012 after tracking down and assaulting an ex-girlfriend whom he had previously stabbed. Within two weeks of his release, in January 2013, he had beaten 23-year-old Anastasia Voykina to death with a hockey stick. Before he killed her, neighbours had called the police to her flat on two occasions, because, they said, his attacks on her were so severe, the building was vibrating. Judge Richard Marks said to Lopes: “There is no doubt in my mind you intended to kill her. You are and will remain for an indefinite time a significantly dangerous man, particularly to women.” Lopes pleaded guilty to manslaughter, not murder, on the grounds of diminished responsibility because of his mental health problems.  He was jailed for a minimum term of seven years and three months.

Like Filipe Lopes, Vincent Francis had a history of violence against women.  In court it was alleged that he had assaulted his girlfriend, Holly Banwell, at least 27 times. Some of the assaults had been overhead by neighbours; it was also alleged that he had attacked a previous partner.  On 4 September, 2009, Holly  had been out with her 17-year-old friend Stacey Hyde, they  had then gone back to the flat that Holly and Vince Francis shared.  Stacey remembers waking up to hear Holly screaming but not what happened next.  A 72-year-old neighbour told police that she saw Francis trying to swing Stacey  around by her pony tail while her friend Holly looked on, screaming.  Holly Banwell called the police, telling them “…my boyfriend is beating my friend… I need the police ASAP”.  On the recorded call she is then heard saying “they are fighting”, before screaming “Stacey has a knife and has stabbed him”.  Stacey was sobbing when the police arrived, she told them “he tried to kill me…I had to help Holly…he was going to kill her…I thought he would kill me…”.

In March 2010, at the age of 18, Stacey Hyde was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.  While awaiting trial she had been given well-intentioned but misguided advice from other prisoners affecting her responses in court and possibly, consequently, how she was viewed by the jury. The law has been changed since then too, so that loss of control caused by fear of serious violence can now be taken into account, but this wasn’t an option at the time Stacey was convicted.

Stacey is due in court to appeal her conviction on Thursday and Friday this week, the 13th and 14th November, 2014.  Since her conviction, new evidence has emerged about her mental health, for example that she had ADHD at the time of her offence, and in addition, other psychiatric diagnoses resulting from a difficult childhood.  If Stacey’s appeal is accepted, her conviction for murder will be overturned for one of manslaughter.  She has already served five years and it is possible that she will be released from custody.

Trials for murder and manslaughter are complex. Each with their own particular circumstances and it is right that those circumstances are taken into account.  I’m sure there are many reasons why Stacey’s case can’t be directly compared to those of the men I’ve mentioned above, and yet: Unlike 62-year-old John Butler who claimed he’d been attacked by Pauline Butler before he stabbed her, or 51-year-old Adrian Muir, who claimed Pamela Jackson attacked him before he beat her head and fractured her skull, a 72-year-old neighbour had witnessed Francis attacking Stacey, and Holly Banwell called the police telling them that he was beating her.  Also, unlike Muir, she didn’t lie her way through a two-month police investigation.  Like 41-year-old Lee Granger, who killed 80-year-old Sybil Sibthorpe, at 17, she was half the age of the man she killed.  But a 17-year-old young woman – in fear of her life and that of her friend –  killing a 34 year-old-man, cannot really be compared to a 41-year-old man,  described by a judge as a risk to the public,  bearing a grudge against and beating to death his 80-year-old former landlord.

Stacey was 17, legally a child, a child with a history of mental health problems and experience of sexual violence, when she killed 34-year-old Vincent Francis, a man with a history of perpetrating violence. Her claims of being assaulted by the man she killed are not unverified. She is not a risk to the public. She did not lie and deny her actions though the investigation.  She did not try to hide a body. Unlike John Butler, Lee Grainger, Adrian Muir, Filipe Lopes and many men who have killed women since she killed Vincent Francis, Stacey Hyde was found guilty of murder, not manslaughter. Stacey has never denied that she killed Vincent Francis, but she wasn’t a murderer, she was a child, a frightened child.

 Please support Justice for Women in their fight for justice for Stacey Hyde.

Why the hierarchy of dead women and girls?

Like anyone else, I was saddened to wake up to the news that a body has been found in the search for 14-year-old Alice Gross, and that her disappearance has now become a murder inquiry; similarly, I felt sickened to hear about the rape and  murder of 23-year old Hannah Witheridge, just two weeks ago.

But since Alice went missing – and in addition to Hannah – at least ten other UK women have been killed through suspected male violence.  Why don’t we all know the name of Leighann Duffy, 26, stabbed to death in Walthamstow? What about Glynis Bensley, 48, who witnesses said was pursued by two masked men on bikes before she was killed? Perhaps some people will recall the name of Pennie Davis, 47, found dead in a field, stabbed as she tended her horse.  What about Serena Hickey, Dorothy Brown, 66; Nicola Mckenzie, 37; Davinia Loynton, 59; or Lorna McCarthy, 50?

The murder of 82-year-old Palmira Silva who was beheaded in London was also front page news this month, but few were aware that she was the third woman to have been beheaded in London in less than six months, after  Tahira Ahmed, 38, in June and  Judith Nibbs, 60, in April. Was this simply because beheading is big news at the moment due to the murders of David Haines,  James Foley and Steven Sotloff?

The killer of 15-year-old Shereka Marsh, shot in Hackney earlier this year, was found guilty of manslaughter this week.  Did we all mourn the 15-year-old school-girl, described by teachers as one of their “shining stars”, on course to sit 10 GCSEs this summer?  Wasn’t being accidentally shot by your boyfriend also big news, also international news, this month?

Men’s violence against women and girls, systemic, connected, has killed at least 11 dead UK women this month.  At least 111 UK women have been killed through suspected male violence so far this year, 111 women in 272 days is one dead woman every 2.45 days.

Older, black, usually but not all, killed by men they had known and loved – their husbands, boyfriends, ex’s and sons (8 women have been killed by their sons this year, 13 last year, 16 the year before) – why don’t we care so much about these women? Young, white and blond, killed by a stranger, hold the front pages – but don’t bother to make the connections with other women killed by men; talk about anything, immigration, terrorism, tourism, guns and gangs – talk about anything except male violence against women and girls.

Innocent Victims? Isn’t that just another way of blaming women and girls for men’s violence?

The phrase “innocent victim” has re-emerged to describe Sabrina Moss – a 24-year old teacher who was shot dead in London as she celebrated her birthday in August 2013 – in British bastions of judgemental conservative journalism The Daily Mail and the Express.

It’s a phrase that came in to my consciousness when it was used to describe 16-year-old Jane MacDonald who was murdered on 26 June 1977 by being hit on the head with a hammer three times and stabbed in the chest and back around 20 times. When her face-down body was turned over by police, they found a broken bottle complete with screw-top embedded in her chest.  She was murdered by Peter Sutcliffe and was the fifth woman of thirteen that he is known to have killed.  Before her, there had been 28-year-old Wilma McCann, beaten with a hammer and stabbed to death in October 1975; 42-year-old Emily Jackson, beaten with a hammer and stabbed 52 times with a screw-driver in January 1975; Irene Richardson, 28, beaten with a hammer and stabbed and slashed with a Stanley knife in February 1977 and Patricia Atkinson, 32, beaten and clawed with a hammer and also stabbed, in April 1977.  Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson, Irene Richardson and Patricia Atkinson had not been described by the press as innocent victims.  Why? Because Jane MacDonald was the first woman known to have been murdered by Sutcliffe who was not in prostitution.  Sutcliffe himself shared this belief that prostituted women were less worthy than none prostituted women.  In his confession, referring to Jane MacDonald, he said

“The next one I did I still feel terrible about, it was the young girl Jayne MacDonald. I read recently about her father dying of a broken heart and it brought it all back to me. I realised what sort of a monster I had become. I believed at the time I did it that she was a prostitute.”

and

“When I saw in the papers that MacDonald was so young and not a prostitute, I felt like someone inhuman and I realised that it was a devil driving me against my will and that I was a beast.”

Leaving aside Sutcliffe’s failure to take responsibility for his actions –  blaming them on being driven by the devil, not his own violent misogyny –  the implication is clear, that beating and stabbing four prostituted women to death was something less than monstrous. He became a monster when he killed Jane, not when he had killed Wilma, Emily, Irene and Patricia.

This week, Oscar Pistorius was found not guilty of the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, the woman he killed.  State prosecutor Gerrie Nel refered to Pistorius as causing “the death of an innocent woman” and again referred to him being “convicted of a serious crime of killing an innocent woman.”  Of course, Reeva Steenkamp, in comparison to Pistorius was innocent, but surely that is almost always the case when comparing murder victims to their killers.    If not innocent, what are they? Guilty? Or perhaps somehow complicit in their own death?

Despite attempts at law reform, some women’s complicity in their own murders is still implied indeed enshrined  in British law.  Academic Adrian Howe has looked at infidelity in the sentencing of men convicted of intimate partner homicide.  She points out that  “For over 300 years, criminal courts have regarded sexual infidelity as sufficiently grave provocation as to provide a warrant, indeed a ‘moral warrant’, for reducing murder to manslaughter.”  and that whilst “ ‘sexual infidelity’ was expressly excluded as a trigger for loss of control in the new loss of control defence laid down in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009”, “sexual infidelity still has mitigating prowess” in diminished responsibility pleas, as does men’s ‘distress’ if they kill a partner who is in the process of leaving them.  This ‘distress’ could just as easily be described men’s entitlement, or their rage that their partner has the audacity to reject them and move on.  A woman’s murder is somehow less heinous, deserving a reduced plea of manslaughter or a reduced sentence, if the court accepts that something that she did contributed to a man’s choice to kill her.

Dead women get no opportunity to defend their character; but even if they could, it should not make a difference.   Victims of violence should not be graded according to their worth, the balance would inevitably be tipped to discredit those not deemed to be ‘good’ women according to a scale reflecting class-biased and sexist values of what a woman should be.  We can see this when we look at the justice system and men’s sexual violence against women.  Women are not equal in the eyes of the law. The concept of ‘lady-like’ behaviour controls, judges and stratifies; acceptable/respectable standards of woman or girlhood align with middle-class standards of conduct and appearance.  Catharine MacKinnon argued  that the law divides women along indices of consent from ‘the virginal daughter’ to ‘whorelike wives and prostitutes’ with women who meet standards closer to the former, less likely to be found to have consented to unwanted intercourse, more likely to be believed regarding rape and sexual violence. Women who are socially or educationally disadvantaged are less likely to ‘perform well’ in the criminal justice system1 and women from working-class backgrounds are more likely to refuse to adhere to the status of victim, more likely to endure/cope and more likely to minimise injury2, as victims is it we who are on trial, we who are judged and the men who attack us who benefit from our perceived innocence.  In Rotherham, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford and beyond, we’ve seen how labelling girls as slags and troublemakers allows the men who abuse to continue to do so.

Women victims of male violence should not have unequal status under the law.  Whether we have fucked one man or woman or five hundred; whether we pay our bills though prostitution, preaching, teaching or trust funds. Our laws, written by white middle-class men, favour white middle-class men and all women victims of male violence deserve justice, not just those of us who according to some scale of judgement are deemed ‘innocent’.

 

1 Temkin 2002b:6

2 Skeggs, 2005:971

 

Who Counts?

Just women killed by men: shifting definitions and learning though Counting Dead Women

It’s over two and a half years since I unintentionally started counting dead women back in January 2012 when the year began with report after report of women killed through domestic violence. I know now, but I didn’t then, that in the first three days of 2012, eight women in the UK were killed through male violence. Three days, eight dead women: three shot, two stabbed, one strangled,  one smothered and one beaten to death through 15 blunt force trauma injuries

Eight women aged between 20 and 87, their killers aged between 19 and 48 were husbands, partners, boyfriends or ex’s; , sister’s partner, aunt’s partner, robber and grandson.  I remember the feeling of incredulity that connections weren’t being made, that dots weren’t being joined, that no-one was talking about a pattern, or at least a series of related events.

At first, I counted women killed through domestic violence, then, on March 9th 2012, Ahmad Otak stabbed and killed Samantha Sykes, 18 and Kimberley Frank, 17. Otak wasn’t the boyfriend of either of them, but of Elisa Frank, Kimberley’s sister.  After killing Kimberly and Samantha in front of Eliza, he abducted Eliza and drove to Dover in an attempt to escape to France. The murders of Samantha and Kimberley didn’t strictly fit the definition of domestic violence, but they’re absolutely about a man trying to exert power, control and coercion in his relationship. The murders of Kimberley and Samantha were no less about male violence against women that they would have been if he had been the boyfriend of one of them.

I’d never planned to start counting and I think I’d imagined that I’d stop at the end of 2012.  At the end of the year, I tried to define who I was counting and who I wasn’t using the term ‘gender related murder’.  With the start of 2013, I started a new list and kept on counting.  Slowly finding a voice through social media, particularly twitter, I started blogging early in 2013. I wrote my first piece about how I started counting and some of the things I’d learned and called it Counting Dead Women. With the term ‘gender related murder’ I was trying to express that fatal male violence against women went beyond ‘domestic violence’; that there was more to men’s sexist misogynistic murders of women than the widely used ‘Two women a week killed by partners or ex-partners’, that socially constructed gender has an influence beyond domestic violence .  I had a notion, that I now reject, that I wasn’t talking about all instances where men had killed women; and I didn’t want to be accused of exaggerating and adding women just to make the numbers higher.

So, there were some women who had been killed by men that I didn’t add to the list, for example where she’d been killed but so had a man  – my thinking ‘So, this wasn’t just sexism/misogyny’ – or one case  where the killer was an employee of the woman he murdered, ‘maybe he’d have killed his employer even if he had been a man?’  I had more questions:  Who counts as a ‘UK woman’? What about women from the UK murdered on holiday? If I counted UK women murdered overseas, should I therefore not count women who were not from the UK if they were murdered here?  What about so-called mercy killings? In a country where assisted dying is not legal, surely some people might make the choice through lack of choice.  What about girls?  When does the killing of a child become sexist?

I started thinking about and using the term Femicide ‘the killing of women because they are women’ and wrote about it here in October 2013.  But it still didn’t feel right, the term  ‘femicide’ itself doesn’t name the agent, neither does the short definition above, purportedly because women can kill women as a result of patriarchal values. Of course that’s true, yet the 123-word definition of femicide agreed at the Vienna Symposium on Femicide whilst giving some useful examples of forms that fatal violence against women can take, still didn’t name ‘male violence’ and it excluded a group of women that I’d begun to identify through my counting: older women killed by younger men in what were sometimes described as ’botched robberies’ or muggings. The level of brutality that some men used against these women, the way some targeted women and the use of sexual violence, meant to me that their murders could not be excluded. I posed that question, that in a world where sexism and misogyny are so pervasive, are all but inescapable, can a man killing a woman ever not be a sexist act?  A fatal enactment of patriarchy?

It’s September 2014 now.  Last week, on Thursday, 82-year-old Palmira Silva became at least the 100th woman in the UK to be killed through male violence this year. I say at least the 100th because I have a list of more than 10 women’s names where the circumstances of their deaths has not been made publicly available.  In the same way that the list of 107 women’s names that I’d gathered by the end of 2012 is now a list of 126 women, I expect that time will reveal women who have been killed this year, women I haven’t heard about or who I haven’t yet been able to include because information about their deaths has not been released .

Because I’m counting dead women, keeping this list, I was able to make connections that others simply wouldn’t know about.  On Thursday evening, a tweet I wrote, identifying Palmira Silva as the third women to have been beheaded in London in less than six months was trending in London. My blog had more hits in one day than it usually has in a month.  Some people heard about my list for the first time and asked questions, making me realise it was perhaps time to revisit and update my explanation of what I’m doing and why.

Why am I counting women killed through male violence? Because if we don’t name the agent, we can’t hope to identify the causes.  If we don’t reveal the extent of men’s fatal violence against women and the various forms it can take, we will never be capable of a thorough enough analysis to reduce or end it.  If the bigger picture is revealed, people can begin to see the connections.  That’s why I know that I need to keep counting dead women and campaigning for this to be done officially.

My thinking has developed and changed since January 2012.  There’s no reason that it won’t continue to do so. Not everyone likes what I’m doing or how I’m doing it. Not everyone agrees with my analysis.  Not everyone thinks women killed by men are worth of counting.

So, who counts?  Women.  Women, aged 14 years and over, women killed by men in the UK and UK women killed overseas.  Regardless of the relationship between the woman and the man who killed her; regardless of how he killed her and who else he killed at the same time; regardless of the verdict reached when the case gets to court in our patriarchally constructed justice system created by men and continually delivering anything but justice to women; regardless of what is known and not known of his motive.  Just women killed by men.

Naked headless women golf tees, it’s all a bit of a laugh

Naked headless women golf tees, it’s all a bit of a laugh, eh?  Adding, according to Dunlop, “a little humour to your game” or “the perfect gift for someone who takes the sport a little too seriously.”  Bend down and stick the nice bit of pink plastic tits and arse in the ground, balance your golf ball head, swing and “thwack”. Hilarious.

But what about those of us who aren’t laughing?

I grew up in a village in Yorkshire with a pub called The Silent Woman.  The pub sign was a picture of a woman carrying her head in her hands.  To be silent a woman had to be headless.  A misogynistic leap of association, dragging in the nagging wife, the fishwife, the gossip: to be silent a woman must be headless. Is there a feminist on social media who hasn’t experienced attempts at silencing when she expresses her opinions?  I’ve lost count of the number of men who have told me “Don’t start with ….”, “Shut up,” or called me variations of screeching, bleating feminazi.  The Silent Woman in Slaithwaite did not have a unique pub name, there are several across the UK, with The Headless Woman as a variation.  Sometimes the  name appears with the couplet: “Here is a woman who has lost her head,  She’s quiet now—you see she’s dead” (Author unknown) just in case the inference from name alone isn’t clear enough.  Carl Jung talked about cultural archetypes. Cross cultural , universal concepts that he believed indicated a collective unconscious.  Unconscious forces that are expressed in images, religion, stories and mythology as they enter consciousness and shape our interactions in society.  The silent woman, synonymous with headless woman is a patriarchal archetype. It reflects sexist misogynistic cultural values.  Not convinced about the concept of patriarchy?  Remember Verbal Kint in The Usual Suspects? “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he didn’t exist.”

The objectification of women, reducing us to hilarious little objects that exist to titillate men, to give them a giggle, is another means of keeping us unequal.  Reducing us to hilarious little objects towards which to swing a golf club makes hitting us fun.  Making a joke out of the objectification of women and male violence against women is another way of normalising and reducing our ability to stop and stand back, to confront the horrible reality of what is happening.

Male violence against women does not exist in a social vacuum, it simultaneous reinforces and is reinforced by inequality between woman and men, given more than a helping hand by the objectification of women. Two and a half years ago, I started counting UK women killed through male violence.  Since I started counting in January 2012 and the end of May 2014, 333 UK women had been killed; amongst them, I am aware of six women who were decapitated.  Anyone still laughing at Dunlop’s golf tees?

Is it funny if I remind you of 29-year-old Gemma McCluskie?  She was actor living in London. In March 2012, her brother Tony McCluskie, 36, killed her by hitting her head and then chopped her up with a cleaver and a knife.  The next day, he took a cab carrying a heavy suitcase.  A week later, her torso was found in the suitcase in the canal close to where he was dropped off.  A week later her arms and legs were found in black bags.  It was another six months before her head was found.

Will you laugh if I tell you about Elizabeth Coriat? In March 2012, Daniel Coriat, 43, killed his 76-year-old mother Elizabeth Coriat in their shared home in London.  She was found on her bed, fully clothed, decapitated and mutilated with various weapons embedded in her head and body, injuries to the wrists and ankles in a ‘crucifixion-like’ pattern. She had suffered almost 50 separate injuries inflicted by weapons including carving knives, secateurs, a chef’s steel and a pruning saw.  Her head had been cut off completely off, rotated 180 degrees, and placed back on her body.

Will your golfer stop talking the sport so seriously if we think about Catherine Gowing, a 39-year-old vet who was murdered by a serial rapist Clive Sharp, 47, in October 2012? He raped her for 4 hours before killing her. The next day he bought bleach, petrol, a hacksaw and spare blades, and a Halloween mask.  He dismembered Catherine’s remains in open ground before disposing of her body in various locations in North Wales.  Only her torso, right hand and foot have been recovered; her head and remaining body parts were never found.

Will the story of Reema Ramzan bring back the missing humour to your game? 18-year-old Reema from Sheffield was murdered by her boyfriend Aras Hussain, 21,  in June 2013. According to forensic evidence although he had stabbed her in the chest,  Reema was likely to be alive while her head was being cut off, though would of course have lost consciousness at some point.  A post mortem showed Reema had also been stabbed in her shoulder and leg.  Injuries on her hands were consistent with self-defence.  Judge Mrs Justice Cox told Hussain  “”The pain, terror, anguish and desperation she would therefore have suffered, as you inflicted these appalling injuries upon her and ended her life, is truly horrifying to contemplate.”

Finally, if your sense of humour needs a final nudge there’s 60-year-old Judith Nibbs  who lived in Hackney, London. Judith had been active in the local community for many years and had worked delivering meals-on-wheels to the elderly for the last 6 years.  She also cared for her disabled daughter. In April 2014, police responding to a call found her decapitated body in her blood-splattered flat. Her estranged husband, Dempsey Nibbs, 67, was also there.  It is believed he had stabbed and seriously injured himself after killing Judith.  Police are not looking for anyone else.

Those golf club thwacks to the head have a broader context beyond beheaded women.  There are numerous women  murdered through blows to the head: garden ornaments, kitchen implements, hammers, feet, fists, blunt force trauma, fractured skull, brain injury. There’s also 68-year-old Sally Hingston, murdered by 25-year old and 6ft 10 Benjamin Radojezic: Sally survived a brutal beating – with a golf club – only to be dumped half naked in a ditch where she took 17 hours to die in Buckinghamshire in 2009.

Off with her head.  Oh, such a laugh. The naked headless woman – a little bit of humour for your game of golf.  I’m not laughing. After reading this, could anyone be?

 

Jo Sharpen has stated a petition to Dunlop to remove the naked woman golf tees from sale.  You can sign it here https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/dunlop-sport-remove-the-misogynistic-nudie-tee-product-which-features-a-decapitated-woman-s-body# %85naked woman golf tees picture

Nahid Al-Manea was stabbed to death ‘because she was wearing traditional Muslim dress’?

The headline “Woman stabbed to death ‘because she was wearing traditional Muslim dress’” is repeated across today’s news.

Attacking Nahid Al-Manea because of what she was wearing was a racist hate crime and blaming her clothing is judgemental victim blaming.  I have no desire to defend any religion. All religions that I am aware of oppress women.  But I want to know why we can almost immediately place her murder in a box called ‘religion’ or ‘racism’.   So far this year, I’ve counted more than 70 women in the UK killed though suspected male violence, but I’ve yet to see anyone other than feminists identifying this a problem with patriarchy or misogyny.

According to the Tell MAMA UK  project, 58% of anti-Muslim attacks reported to them are against women and girls with a 2:1 ratio of women victims in Islamic clothing compared to men in Islamic clothing, 75% of perpetrators are male.  The sex differences are clear – and predicable – to anyone who cares to look for them.  When race or religion are a factor in violence, these are rightly identified and named . Why isn’t it the same with sexist and misogynistic murder?

We’re not calling racially motivated attacks isolated incidents, nor should we, but that’s still how male violence against women is too frequently viewed. Racist violence does not happen in a vacuum that is unaffected by other forms of hate-crime.  Of course we need to drive out racism but we need to open our eyes and make the connections between all crimes of male violence against women – any woman, all women.

Within minutes of the breaking news of the violent murder of Lee Rigby last summer, his death was being linked to Islamic extremism– a threat to “our  British values”.  The government’s emergency response committee, COBRA, was convened the following day. Why hasn’t a COBRA meeting been called to look at fatal male violence against women?  The murder of Lee Rigby was abhorrent, but any murder is abhorrent. There should be no hierarchy. Could it be that it is only when the primary aggressors are those acting against, not reinforcing the dominant ideology, that the structural root of violence is identified?

According to Fiyaz Mughal, the founder of Tell MAMA UK  “If the killing is found to be an anti-Muslim in nature, then this will be the second Islamophobic murder in 14 months,”.   Two in 14 months is two too many. Nahid al-Manea, 32, was stabbed to death.  A 52 year-old man has been arrested.  I’ve seen more than 70 versions of this same story in the UK already this year. Over 70 dead women.  Over 70 male killers.  70 dead women in five months. Women with a wide range of backgrounds.  Nine dead women this month so far. Who isn’t making the connections?